NCAA Football News

10 Best Teams That Lost College Football National Championship Games

History is indeed written by the victors, and in college football, history can often forget those who came the closest to putting their own names into the books.

Since the arrival of the BCS in the 1998 season, there have been 18 national championship games in college football. Many of the 18 winners are well-known for their excellence, but what about those who fell short of winning it all?

Where does this season's Clemson team rank compared to other runners-up?

Here are the top 10 teams that lost either a BCS or a College Football Playoff National Championship. These rankings were determined by three factors—average point differential (the difference between scoring offense and scoring defense), strength of schedule (a given number rating from Sports-Reference.com) and the quality of the teams' losses.

It's difficult to try to objectively compare teams from different seasons, but this list is based on which title-losing teams were the most dominant with respect to the quality of opponents they faced that year. 

Tell us how you would rank the teams that lost title games in the BCS/CFP era in the comments below.

Begin Slideshow

Breaking Down Florida's Wild Offseason QB Battle

During a typical offseason, if a team returns a quarterback who finished each of the last two seasons as a starter, it would qualify as a pretty strong foundation no matter what other pieces are around him.

Florida's offense this offseason, though, is anything but stable.

Junior Treon Harris will return after ascending to the top spot on the depth chart in the middle of each of the last two seasons, but he completed just 47.8 percent of his passes once the calendar changed to November and seemed like a square peg in a round hole in head coach Jim McElwain's system from the jump.

Will Harris win the job out of fall camp, or will another contender out of a group step up? 

Let's break down the contenders:

 

Junior Treon Harris

Harris obviously has the most experience, which will be beneficial for McElwain's crew considering the woes of the offensive line and the absence of last year's starting running back, Kelvin Taylor. Having somebody back there who has been through the rigors of the season, knows the speed of the game and is comfortable with the simple things like getting plays in and players lined up is important.

But Harris' upside simply isn't there.

He is erratic with the football, struggles to go through reads and doesn't have the touch that McElwain-coached quarterbacks need to be successful.

As former Missouri wide receiver T.J. Moe pointed out on Twitter, Harris has the kind of reputation no player wants.

Experience matters, as does his elusiveness and ability to create behind the line of scrimmage when the protection breaks down. 

Will that be enough to earn him the starting job? Probably not. He is going to have to improve his decision-making and his accuracy if he wants to win the job coming out of fall camp.

Outlook: Not likely the starter

 

Junior Luke Del Rio

The long and winding patch to Gainesville for junior Luke Del Rio has taken the California native to Alabama and Oregon State, but after sitting out his transfer year in 2015, the former Elite 11 quarterback is ready to contend for the starting quarterback job at Florida.

Does he have what it takes?

The 6'1", 216-pounder has a big arm, experience in a variety of systems, knows what to expect out of McElwain after spending time on the Gator scout team a year ago and will likely enter spring practice as the top contender to earn the job.

As GatorCountry.com's Nick de la Torre pointed out during Florida's Buffalo Wild Wings Citrus Bowl loss to Michigan, Del Rio has fans in the Gators coaching staff.

The journeyman has seen a lot but doesn't have a ton of experience. He completed just eight of his 18 passes for 141 yards as Sean Mannion's backup in 2014. That's not a lot to work off of.

He's much more of a natural fit for McElwain's offense than Harris, and the experience he gained last year while sitting out should allow him to hit the ground running and become one of the favorites exiting spring practice provided he stays healthy.

Outlook: Probable starter

 

Senior Austin Appleby

If McElwain wants a quarterback who has the arm and stature to stand tall in the pocket, Purdue graduate transfer Austin Appleby might be his guy.

The 6'5", 239-pound former starter for the Boilermakers made 11 starts, threw for 2,777 yards and tossed 19 touchdowns over the last three seasons, but he lost his job to hotshot freshman David Blough in 2015.

A former Elite 11 finalist, Appleby isn't as familiar with the system as Harris or Del Rio, but he has had more success at the college level than Del Rio and is a much better fit for the ideal Gators offense.

With Blough out with a concussion, Appleby got the start in Purdue's final game of the regular season against Indiana. He went out with a bang, as Brady Ackerman of Florida Sports Talk and the Gator Radio Network noted on Twitter:

He'll have to learn the system on the fly in a crowded race, which is never an easy thing to do. If he picks it up, though, he could turn out to be one of the most important graduate transfers of the offseason.

Outlook: Possible starter

 

Freshman Feleipe Franks

True freshman early enrollee Feleipe Franks is the future of the quarterback position, and one of the biggest questions facing McElwain this spring is deciding whether the future is now.

The U.S. Army All-American from Crawfordville, Florida, flipped from LSU to the Gators last fall and has everything the staff wants from a quarterback. At 6'5", 210 pounds with a big arm and solid accuracy, he is a perfect fit for the Florida program.

It's not a matter of "if," but a matter of "when" for Franks. 

The beauty of Florida's current quarterback battle is, while the position has been a sore spot since Tim Tebow moved on after the 2009 season, Del Rio's eligibility and the decision to transfer to the program by Appleby actually gives McElwain some flexibility on how he fits his future quarterback into the mix.

"When" might not be the first series against UMass on September 3, but he will likely be part of the game plan in some capacity as the season goes on. He has all of the talent to be a superstar, and the staff will find out just how ready he is during the season and usher him along as needed.

Outlook: Won't start but could end the season as starter

 

Quotes were obtained firsthand unless otherwise noted. Statistics are courtesy of cfbstats.com, and recruiting information is courtesy of 247Sports.

Barrett Sallee is the lead SEC college football writer and national college football video analyst for Bleacher Report as well as a host on Bleacher Report Radio on SiriusXM 83. Follow Barrett on Twitter @BarrettSallee.

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Jayron Kearse Declares for 2016 NFL Draft: Latest Comments and Reaction

Clemson Tigers safety Jayron Kearse won't return for his senior year, opting instead to enter the 2016 NFL draft.

Kearse took to Instagram to announce his decision Wednesday. He wound up with 62 total tackles (6.5 for loss), six passes defensed and one interception in his final college season, per CFBStats.com.

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Way-Too-Early 2016 Big Ten Football Power Rankings

The 2015 Big Ten season is officially in the books and although the conference doesn't once again find itself the home of the defending national champions, it'd be hard to look at the past year as anything but a step forward for the league.

From the resurgence of Michigan under its new head coach to 10 teams finding themselves participating in bowl games and the emergences of several new stars and an unlikely playoff contender, there was no shortage of positives to be found in the Big Ten in 2015. But although bowl season just ended, it's never too early to start looking ahead to the future, as spring practice for the 2016 season will be here before you know it.

Who will dominate the headlines for the conference in the coming year? That remains to be seen.

But while we're waiting, here's a look at some way-too-early Big Ten power rankings for 2016.

Begin Slideshow

Shaq Lawson Declares for 2016 NFL Draft: Latest Comments and Reaction

Clemson Tigers defensive end Shaq Lawson announced Wednesday he will skip his senior season and declare for the 2016 NFL draft:  

The 6'3'', 275-pound junior is No. 14 on Matt Miller of Bleacher Report's big board and the No. 2 overall defensive end prospect.

Dane Brugler and Rob Rang of CBSSports.com described Lawson as having a "terrific motor:"

Lawson's compact frame and power make him equally effective against the run and the pass, where he shows surprising initial quickness and agility as well as a terrific motor. He has quick, strong hands to create push with his upper-body strength, showing the fluid lower body to drive his legs and smoothly change directions based on his reads.

Lawson is terrific leveraging blocks off the edge, using an iron shoulder and natural body flexibility to dictate his path and beat single blocks. Does a nice job setting the edge and playing contain, working off his blocks to the outside and finishing in space.

Lawson, a 2015 Consensus All-America selection, had a combined 7.5 sacks his first two years before registering 12.5 this season as Clemson made it to the final of the College Football Playoff where it lost to Alabama.

Lawson battled a knee injury during the latter stages of the campaign. At one point, he listed the pain from the ailment at an eight on a 10-point scale, per College Football 24/7. He fought through the issue to register four tackles and two sacks in the team's loss to the Crimson Tide in the national title game.

NFL teams will surely want to take a look at the medical information during the draft process to see if there's any reason for long-term concern stemming from the knee problem.

He's got a terrific opportunity to land in the first half of Round 1, and potentially even inside the top 10, if there are no lingering health issues. His combination of size, power and small-space quickness makes him an ideal edge-rusher in today's NFL.

Lawson must continue to improve against the run, and he'll likely need to add some more moves to his arsenal in order to make a consistent pass-rushing impact at the next level. Those are not uncommon areas of concern for an incoming rookie, though.

The more important thing is his skill set, which is highly impressive. He's capable of stepping right into the lineup on Day 1 and steadily developing into a force off the edge over the next few years.

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Kevin Dodd Declares for 2016 NFL Draft: Latest Comments and Reaction

Following a dominant performance in the Clemson Tigers' College Football Playoff National Championship Game loss to the Alabama Crimson Tide, defensive end Kevin Dodd officially declared for the 2016 NFL draft Wednesday.

According to David Hood of TigerNet.com, Dodd released a statement explaining his decision to forgo his senior season through Element Sports Group:

After speaking with my family, I have decided to apply for early entry into the 2016 NFL draft. Leaving Clemson is an extremely tough decision, but I truly feel like I am physically and mentally ready for the next challenge. We had an amazing season. I am so proud of what we accomplished, and I am so thankful for the opportunity to play football here at Clemson. Thank you to my coaches, especially Coach (Dabo) Swinney, Coach (Brent) Venables and Coach (Marion) Hobby for all they have done for me. Thank you to my teammates and all of the academic and athletic staff here at Clemson as well. I will be staying in Clemson this spring in order to complete my degree and graduate this coming May. Clemson football has given me opportunities I never thought were possible. I am so proud to be a Tiger and will always be a Tiger! Clemson is truly a special place—thank you for everything.

Dodd finished the 2015 campaign with 62 tackles and 12 sacks, and he figures to be among the most highly sought-after pass-rushers in his class.

The Taylors, South Carolina, native dominated Alabama to the tune of three sacks on Jake Coker. While it wasn't enough to lift the Tigers to a national title, it undoubtedly improved his draft status.

Per Bleacher Report's Matt Miller, Dodd is a strong candidate to be selected within the first two rounds in April:

Dodd is somewhat of a late bloomer, as he didn't have a single sack in his collegiate career until 2015, but he broke out in a big way with 23.5 tackles for loss in addition to the 12 times he got to the quarterback.

While Dodd isn't quite at the same level as edge-rushers like Ohio State's Joey Bosa and Georgia's Leonard Floyd due to the fact that his resume is a fairly short one, his ability to perform on the big stage is something that should appeal to many NFL talent evaluators.

 

Follow @MikeChiari on Twitter.

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Michigan Football: 5 Commits with Most Immediate-Impact Potential

Michigan football's highly rated recruiting class is full of untapped potential, but only a handful of currently committed players are ready to make an instant impact in 2016.

Now, expectations should be tempered. It's rare for a true freshman to perform well enough to immediately earn a rotational spot, let alone a starting role.

Enrolling early does help, however, and the Wolverines have welcomed seven new faces to campus during the spring semester. Not every player mentioned here is already in Ann Arbor, but most are.

The key factors used while creating the list were a given prospect's skill set, projected ability to adapt to the college game and roster need.

Begin Slideshow

Early Predictions for Biggest 2016 College QB Battles

As one college football season ends, we square our attention on another.

And where else to start but at quarterback?

Quarterbacks are football's leading men and make a disproportionate difference in an otherwise team-driven sport. Therefore, offseason quarterback battles are like casting decisions made public. It's an intrigue on par with almost any actual game.

Last year, I nailed most predictions, but also had big swings and misses. A lot of that concerned future transfer news, as Everett Golson joining Florida State (and leaving Notre Dame), Vernon Adams Jr. joining Oregon and Greyson Lambert joining Georgia changed the spectrum of those battles after my article was published.

This year, with pieces such as Texas Tech transfer Davis Webb and Pittsburgh transfer Chad Voytik on the board, I expect something similar to happen. Only this time, as it does, I will come back in and update my predictions to reflect the new battles.

Until then, this is based on the best information we have available at the time, plus my personal belief about certain quarterbacks.

Sound off and let me know where you disagree!

Begin Slideshow

Way-Too-Early 2016 SEC Football Power Rankings

Alabama is fresh off the airplane after toppling Clemson 45-40 in the College Football Playoff National Championship on Monday night, but it's never too early to start breaking down the 2016 season.

Will the Crimson Tide win their third straight SEC title? Who else will compete for the playoff? Which teams will regress?

Our way-too-early 2016 power rankings based on talent, returning starters and trajectory are in this slideshow. 

Begin Slideshow

Ohio State Football: Looking Ahead to the Buckeyes' Brutal 2016 Schedule

It feels like an annual tradition for fans of other teams to criticize the perceived weakness of Ohio State's schedule, but with the brutal slate that lies ahead of the Buckeyes in 2016, that custom should come to an unceremonious end. 

Urban Meyer's squad is already facing the mountainous task of replacing a load of NFL talent—an undertaking that will require finding eight new starters on each side of the ball. Many of those holes will be filled by underclassmen, so Ohio State will take on one of the most challenging schedules with one of the most inexperienced teams in the country.

Will Meyer be able to get his young Buckeyes ready for this gauntlet? 

 

The Nonconference Slate

Even the gimme games aren't really gimmes. 

The Buckeyes will open the season against Bowling Green, the reigning MAC champion and a team that knocked off two Big Ten squads in 2015—Maryland and Purdue. The Falcons will have to replace quarterback Matt Johnson, who piled up an incredible 5,105 yards of offense and 50 touchdowns as a senior.

A week later, Ohio State will host an explosive Tulsa team that ranked 13th nationally in total offense (averaging 507.4 yards per game in 2015) and 21st in scoring offense (37.2).

But those games will serve as a warmup to one of the most highly anticipated nonconference games of the year when Ohio State heads south for a showdown with Oklahoma. 

The Sooners—who were knocked out of the College Football Playoff by Clemson on New Year's Eve—are projected by Ryan McCrystal of Bleacher Report as the No. 2 team, and they are expected to make another playoff run in 2016. They return seven starters on both sides of the ball, highlighted by quarterback Baker Mayfield, who exploded for 3,700 yards and 36 touchdowns (against just seven interceptions) to complement 405 yards and seven scores on the ground last season.

Facing that veteran squad on the road in what will most likely be a prime-time game will be a stiff challenge for a green Ohio State team.

 

B1G Play

2016 is the year the Big Ten shifts to a nine-game conference slate, so Ohio State won't be able to squeeze in a tuneup game before league play.

Fortunately for Meyer, Ohio State will have a bye week following the big showdown with Oklahoma, then the Buckeyes open conference play against a rebuilding Rutgers team and an Indiana squad that's losing a ton of offensive firepower—namely quarterback Nate Sudfeld and running back Jordan Howard.

But things take a decidedly hard turn after the Indiana game, when Ohio State makes back-to-back road trips to two of college football's most hostile environments—at Wisconsin and Penn State. The Badgers surged under new head coach Paul Chryst, winning 10 games in 2015, and they'll be geared up to host Ohio State for the first time since 2012.

The Northwestern Wildcats aren't the walkover they used to be, and Ohio State will have to deal with them before kicking off November with a home bout against Nebraska. A week later, the Buckeyes will hit the road to take on Maryland before the most difficult stretch of the schedule.

Like in 2015, Ohio State will close out next season with back-to-back games against Michigan State and Michigan. Of course, with the alternate venues, it'll be the Buckeyes traveling to East Lansing to face the Spartans before coming home to host the Wolverines. 

Both Michigan State and Michigan will be breaking in new quarterbacks in 2016 but by the time November rolls around, both should be fully entrenched in their respective offenses. The Buckeyes will be looking to avenge the lone loss of their 2015 campaign, while the Wolverines will be gunning for revenge after the humiliating 42-13 blowout loss they suffered at the hands of Ohio State last November.

With these two games at the tail end of the schedule, it's likely that the East Division will come down to the wire—again—in 2016.

 

David Regimbal is the Ohio State football lead writer for Bleacher Report. Follow him on Twitter @davidreg412.

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Pages